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Abstract

This chapter explores the act of political imagining around guns by centering on the temporal imaginaries constructed about the Founding Fathers in gun debates in Texas. It questions how the groups on both sides invoke the Founding Fathers as both objects and subjects of political imaginations. On one hand, political activists have created imaginary historical versions of the Founding Fathers to place them in relation to their own political imaginations in the modern day, to depict their stance as a continuum of a wider arc of history. On the other hand, the debates have touched on the potential limits of the imaginations of the Founding Fathers themselves, sparking discussions and disagreements on what the historical figures could have imagined in their own times. The chapter uses a body of materials drawn from media, activists, and fieldwork interviews to explore these two points and to elucidate through them the larger dynamics of political conflict in the contemporary United States. It asks how the temporal imaginaries of the Founding Fathers constructed around guns are drawn into larger ideological tensions that govern modern politics.

Open Access
In: Up in Arms: Gun Imaginaries in Texas

Abstract

The concluding chapter wraps up the volume by pointing to the explanatory, social, and performative aspects of gun imaginaries, as understood through the various historical contexts and interpretive lenses that the contributors engage. The transdisciplinary American Studies explications of gun debates demonstrate the great significance invested in weapons culture in the United States, be it on societal, cultural, or academic levels. Guns as imaginaries galvanize individuals who are up in arms, while their actions and reactions reverberate into further imaginaries; thus, individuals and communities simultaneously shape and are shaped by the broader power relations that they are necessarily a part of. Ultimately, the exploration of Texas as a gun imaginary and guns as a Texan imagery provides a toolbox and a roadmap for future discussions of the significance of firearms in other geographic contexts beyond the United States.

Open Access
In: Up in Arms: Gun Imaginaries in Texas
Up in Arms provides an illustrative and timely window onto the ways in which guns shape people’s lives and social relations in Texas. With a long history of myth, lore, and imaginaries attached to gun carrying, the Lone Star State exemplifies how various groups of people at different historical moments make sense of gun culture in light of legislation, political agendas, and community building. Beyond gun rights, restrictions, or the actual functions of firearms, the book demonstrates how the gun question itself becomes loaded with symbolic firepower, making or breaking assumptions about identities, behavior, and belief systems.

Contributors include: Benita Heiskanen, Albion M. Butters, Pekka M. Kolehmainen, Laura Hernández-Ehrisman, Lotta Kähkönen, Mila Seppälä, and Juha A. Vuori.

Abstract

This introductory chapter lays out the themes and research design of Up in Arms: Gun Imaginaries in Texas. It explicates the ways in which imaginaries about guns have significant performative power and ramifications for individuals, communities, and the nation. Conceiving of imaginaries as gateways between the real world and ideological abstractions, it elaborates how they serve various important functions, driving legislative efforts, political agendas, community building, and social divisions. The chapter illustrates how the volume uses both historical and contemporary imaginaries as lenses through which to explore and better understand a range of cultural aspects intertwined with gun debates in the United States, and Texas in particular. As a nexus of gun debates, the Lone Star State has built its history, identity, and cultural mythology on stories that depict how gun culture was imagined into the very core of collective identity, built environment, and popular culture—with tangible, real-world consequences.

Open Access
In: Up in Arms: Gun Imaginaries in Texas